39. Speed Read "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress"

2 mins read

It’s 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday (6/22) morning and I have a wicked case of insomnia.  My mind is racing like that of a pregnant woman weeks away from giving birth.  Wait a minute.  I AM a pregnant woman weeks away from giving birth.  So much to do.  So much to think about.  So little time left.  And who is this wee one I’ve been schlepping around for the past eight months anyway?  Is it a girl?  Is it a boy?  It’s a mystery, that’s all I know, and the anticipation is starting to kill me.  Which brings me to a new challenge I just cooked up while lying in bed, saucer-eyed and staring into the darkness to the sound of my husband snoring.  Who wants to read a book with me in seven days?  I have until my book club meets next Tuesday, June 28th, at 8 p.m. to read “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home.”

I am a textbook book club slacker, but I’m feeling like I can get this done in a week and it would be more fun if you read it with me, so here are the details:

The book is about 240 pages long and that means all we have to do is read 35 pages a day for the next seven days.  I’ll add updates to this post each day in the comments area below and I’d love your comments on the book, too, as we go, even if you’ve already read it.  All you have to do is enter a few thoughts in the comments box below, and you can check back or choose to be notified when others add their comments, too.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a #1 New York Times Best Seller written by Rhoda Janzen. And, I confess, I had to, um, refresh my memory of the word Mennonite online.  You’ll find the definition by clicking HERE. And here are the first few lines of the book’s description on the back cover:

“Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down.  It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her seriously injured.  Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country , and returned to her quirky Mennonite family’s home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice…”

So it sounds like there could be some fun twists and turns to this one.  I just picked up a copy at Barnes and Noble in Deer Park and, like I normally do, I read the book’s first sentence and then flipped to the end to read the very last sentence.  Here they are:

First Sentence:  “The year I turned forty-three was the year I realized I should have never taken my Mennonite genes for granted.”

Last Sentence:  “If you play your cards right, I’m pretty sure they’ll offer you some cabbage.”

Now if that doesn’t pique your interest, then I give up.  Come on.  Let’s do it.  I’ll check in at the end of each day with a few thoughts about the latest 35 pages.  And by the end of the week, we can all say we’ve read another book.  Which is much smarter than killing brain cells by watching that pathetic Bachelorette, Ashley Hebert pine for bad boy Bentley who returns to the show in Hong Kong next week to, hopefully, come clean about his complete lack of interest in her.  “Dot…Dot…Dot…”.  Not that I would know the latest in that saga ;).  See you back here tomorrow. In the meantime, you’ll find the New York Times review of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by clicking HERE and here’s a video of Rhoda Janzen talking about her book.



  1. OK…I’ve just read the first two chapters. That’s 41 pages so I’m on track to finish the book by Tuesday night. So far my favorite part (and this is probably because I’m a Realtor) is the passage on page 16 where Rhoda writes her own real estate ad which reads, “Gorgeous lakefront property, just an icy commute away on a deadly highway! This special house is so big you’ll close all the vents and pray for a mild winter! Unimpaired views for peeping toms! Possums visit the deck! Finished walkout with carpet you wouldn’t have picked! In fact, this carpet is downright unattractive!….Schedule an appointment today!” I could write an ad in this tone for my own house. Couldn’t we all? I’m also enjoying some of her vocabulary words. Many I know, but never use in casual conversation, like Kerfuffle (page 25) and Cattywampus (page 29). So I’m happy to report that, unless I go into labor this week, nothing will kerfuffle my plan to finish this book in seven days. Anyone else reading along and have reactions to the first two chapters?

  2. I’m in! Got it on my Kindle last night so I’m not quite sure how many pages I got thru, but it was probably about 35 or so. I particularly enjoyed the conversation with her mother in the store where she suggests maybe she should marry her cousin because he drives a tractor for pleasure in his free time. 🙂

    • Awesome, Casey! I’m so excited you’re reading with me. I fell behind last night so I have some catching up to do today. But let’s keep it up and share thoughts about the book here. How are you feeling, by the way? I hope all is well and I’m so happy that you wrote.

      • Got a little behind myself. 🙂 Only on chapter 6 and hoping to catch up tonight. It’s not bad so far, but i feel like sometimes the author is trying a little too hard to be funny.

        • Hi Casey,

          I totally agree about the author trying to be funny. I did get behind because we took the kids on a last minute mini-vacation this week to Door County, WI. But I finished the book last night and have some reactions that I’ll share here tomorrow. Did you finish it? I’d love to know your thoughts. It was interesting to watch the video of the author describing her book after reading it. “Turbo Dork” is her own term, but it sort of fits in some ways ;). Look forward to catching up soon, Liz

  3. Congratulations on your upcoming new arrival! I would join in on your read, but I have been struggling to find the time to read a book I’ve been trying to get through for about a month now! Maybe next time! In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on your progress! Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks for writing, Evelyn! I finished the book last night, after my self-imposed deadline, and will share some thoughts here tomorrow. What are some of your favorite books to read? I’m always looking for a good one, Liz

  4. Where do you get this book? Sounds like a good tool in the war (constructive and God blessed of course) to reverse anti productive codependant behavior. I was doing the web thing, just searching the web for the Mennonite Cemetery near Greenwood Delaware, when I found this site. Love y’all, and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to find my way back without help, Melanie from Tennessee.

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